state budget

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Florida voters will decide whether environmental preservation becomes part of the state Constitution. Amendment 1 is a citizens’ initiative born from nearly a million petition signatures.

Florida Turnpike

Miami-Dade County is eligible for more money than any other county in the state budget -- $1.8 billion. That makes the county more susceptible to budget vetoes before the budget goes into effect in July.

The Florida Legislature handed Gov. Rick Scott a record election-year budget of $77.1 billion. Scott has the final say over the budget and can cut funding for programs at will. Miami-Dade has more line items in the budget than any other county, but all of them could be slashed with the veto pen.

Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre

The Actors' Playhouse executive director Barbara Stein says most of the Coral Gables theater's paid performers are from South Florida.

“We hire some people out of New York, too, but our goal is to hire as many capable and qualified for each production Florida based actors that we can,” Stein says.

Gina Jordan/WLRN

March 4 marks the start of the 2014 Florida Legislative session at the Capitol. It runs through May 2.

For two months, lawmakers will consider proposed legislation on everything from marijuana to red-light cameras.

All they really have to do is come up with a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins in July.  Gov. Rick Scott is recommending half a billion dollars in tax and fee cuts.

Jordan Michael/WLRN

Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit government watchdog group, is out with its annual list of ways the state can cut costs and be more efficient -- without cutting services.

The report, called Modern Management & Sensible Savings, found $1.2 billion that could potentially be returned to state coffers. Lawmakers could act on the recommendations when they convene for the annual legislative session next spring.

C. DiMattei

“It’s your money, it’s no one else’s money," said Governor Rick Scott to an audience at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. “So we have to spend it in a manner that makes sense.”

The governor launched his “It’s Your Money” tour in West Palm Beach on Tuesday, just days after announcing his plans to cut taxes and fees by $500 million in the 2014 proposed budget.

The governor’s office says the tour offers a chance for Floridians to discuss taxes they want to see reduced.

Gov. Scott Signs Florida Budget; Explains Vetoes

May 20, 2013
Tom Urban/News Service of Florida

Gov. Rick Scott signed the 2013-14 state budget into law today.

He also sent a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner explaining his decision to veto a tuition hike. “We are also holding the line on tuition by vetoing the Legislature’s recommended 3 percent tuition increase on our college and university students,” the governor wrote.

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Florida lawmakers are doing something they haven't done in years: adding money to state programs.

The recession sent the state into multi-billion-dollar budget shortfalls that led to big cuts in education and state government payrolls.

But this year, lawmakers have money to play with. Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a budget of more than $74 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July. That's about a $4-billion increase in spending over the current year.

So where did the extra money come from?

The Florida House has released its proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Speaker Will Weatherford says education was prioritized over everything else.

“The big winner is education,” Weatherford said. “We invested over a billion dollars into our K-12 education system from last year.”

He said that amounts to a 6.2 percent increase in overall education funding.

Weatherford said they created “a silo of funds” to be funneled down to the districts, including up to $676 million available for teacher pay.

flguardian2 / Flickr Creative Commons

The Florida Legislative Session 2013 is in full swing, and environmental groups are worried about a number of  bills before lawmakers. Organizations like Audubon of Florida are focused on proposed measures that would impact environmental funding, wildlife protection, water quality and land use and conservation.  

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Tough economic times put environmental issues on the Florida Legislature's back burner in recent years, but this session should be different, according to Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), who sat on the panel at Monday night's Town Hall Session 2013 hosted by WLRN and the Miami Herald

Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

 If Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $74.2 billion budget passes the Legislature intact, it would include $75 million for conservation land projects spearheaded by the Florida Forever Coalition. The 2013-2014 budget also includes $60 million for Everglades restoration and $6.5 million for restoring springs.  

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